“The book American Gods wishes it was.” --Despina Durand

Thursday, September 19, 2019

WILD WEST VACATION 2019: NORTHERN AZ TO SNOWFLAKE



Miles away from Phoenix, up the I-17, still seems like our home turf. Found myself fantasizing about a photo or painting project: Show the landscape with the saguaros and mountains, but include the microwave, power, and cell phone towers, the billboards, and the graffiti. No more Nineteenth Century delusions of virgin wilderness.


The 260 still looked like home. Hawks patrolled above, as we hugged the Mogollon Rim--monster country. The roller-coaster forest road took us to Payson, where Em avoided killing a kamikaze squirrel.



We also passed one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, La Sierra. It’s funky, hand-painted sign with an awkwardly fixed misspelling was replaced with a boring, plastic one that looks like it should be in the food court of a fashionable mall. I hope they don’t get rid of the psychedelic sombreros.

Surprisingly, in Northern Arizona, not as many flags were at half-staff. Hmm . . . Maybe that’s a big city thing . . .



There was no sign of snow in Snowflake, Arizona, but we did find a rocketship jungle gym. It triggered sci-fi memories. At my grade school the jungle gym was a dome on top of a dome. We had to use our imaginations to make it into a rocketship.


Now the iconic finned rocket is a cliché. Someday it will be a petroglyph.



We ate dinner at La Cocina de Eva. I always love to find great tacos, beans, and rice. There were also gigantic paintings of the restaurant’s founders as vaqueros. Snowflake has a Mexican heritage.



There was a painting of a dragon.



Snowflake also has a Mormon temple and a Oneness Center, as well as a Catholic church. A diverse population for an Arizona mountain town.



In the parking lot of our motel, a truck laden with a huge, mysterious machine stood the night. I couldn’t tell if it was mining or farm equipment, or part of a secret space program.


That night I dreamed that someone was screaming, “Blow the reactors! Blow them now!” And that I had bought a package of strange, little creatures to release into the local ecosystem.


Friday, September 13, 2019

CHICANONAUTICA TOURS SPACE AND TIME WITH MRS. VARGAS AND THE DEAD NATURALIST


Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga, reviews Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist.

It's book by Kathleen Alcalá:



Kinda like magic realism:



Visions of Aztlán:


Y más:

Friday, September 6, 2019

SCENES FROM A COKOCON


I'm interrupting the Wild West Vacation travelogue because last weekend I was at CokoCon, here in Phoenix . . .


My wife, Emily Devenport was the guest of honor.


Her books were on sale, among others.


Professor Sparks brought the spark machines from the original 1931 Boris Karloff Frankenstein movie, and they still work!


He also, with the help of an assistant, performed the classic “Miss Electra” sideshow act.


So, in the middle of all the apocalyptic media storm, we had good time.

Friday, August 30, 2019

CHICANONAUTICA REMEMBERS WHEN AMERICA INVADED MEXICO



Chicanonautica reviews and quotes from a book about the Mexican American War, over at La Bloga.

It’s mentioned in the Marines Hymn:


John Wayne never made a movie about it:


Schools gloss over it:


And it could have turned out differently:

Monday, August 26, 2019

WILD WEST VACATION 2019: PROLOGUE



Just got back from our annual New Mexico trip. I’ll write a detailed travelogue later--things are weird and complicated, as usual . . .

I was in full Search For America Mode from the get-go. After all, it’s been a blood-spattered summer. Flags are at half-staff. Peter Fonda, the Easy Rider himself, is dead. Whither the hell goest thou, America?


So, I raised a few glasses to freedom.

And it’s still over a year, a long, crazy year, to the election.

I kept my eyes open as we traveled through Aztlán/the Wild West, saw things, took pictures, had some thoughts, even dreamed some dreams.

To be continued . . .

Friday, August 16, 2019

CHICANONAUTICA LISTENS TO AMERICAN SABOR



Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga, reviews American Sabor, a great book about Latinx music in the U.S.A..

Pachucos can boogie:


Ritchie Valens sells Mexican folk to rock and rollers:


Santana plays Tito Puente:


Selena goes tropical:


And Los Lobos bring back traditions:

Thursday, August 8, 2019

HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL THE ERNESTO WAY



People ask for my writing advice, even though after decades of pounding my fists bloody at the gates, New York still treats me like the most talented leper they’ve ever met. I don’t know how to take a manuscript and tweak it so it’ll sell right away. I don’t have a secret formula for writing a bestseller (and I have noticed that people who claim to have one have never had a bestseller).

What I do have is a whole lot of decades worth of experience as a writer, and getting published. I’ve had the cheap thrill of being called a genius, and I was smart enough to realize just how cheap it was. People seem to be amused by what I have to say about it.

Maybe it’s educational. Maybe it’s just entertaining.


Anyway, I’m currently working on Zyx; Or, Bring Me the Brain of Victor Theremin, and the going is getting weird. The joyous noodling around has gotten long, and complicated, and now screams for structure. I have multiple characters and plot lines that would go totally out of control if I just kept noodling. 

Try selling a novel built like a plate of spaghetti . . .

When I start writing anything,(including this) I make notes in brackets and all caps. I’ve found it to be a good way to outline my ideas, put down things that should be included from brainstorming and research. As I write, I delete what’s been covered, and go on.

Things have gotten so bizarre with Zyx that I’ve started putting the bracketed notes in boldface to make finding them easier . . .


Even though I do some outlining--stuff needs to be hung on a framework--I’m more of a pantser than planner. Being an artist trapped in a writer’s career, images come before words, and I like to keep them loose and sketchy. That’s because things change as you work on them.

As a writer, I’ve spent most of my life building a story-making machine in my brain. It goes way down into my subconscious. It’s always gathering things I see, hear about, and experience, selecting the best of the weird shit and rearranging it into stories.

Now and then you have to stop, take a deep breath, pull your nose out of the details, step back, and take a look at what the hell the big picture is becoming.


The good thing is, I don’t have to think about it; it works when I’m going around taking care of the day-to-day business. The bad thing is, like Emily and I have often said, a short story is like a bout with the flu, while novels are more like demonic possession. The monster in the back of my brain takes on a life of its own and demands more of my synapses, because it wants a more complex structure. The abstract expressionist splatter/jazz solo mutates into a widescreen, holographic, CGI symphony/Diego Rivera mural.

Try that while having a job, a family, and all the usual stuff of life!

Some people have the foolish idea that this is some kind of civilized activity. Heh-heh-heh.

So go ahead, try this at home. Stand back. See what happens.

I should probably get down to doing it rather than writing about it . . .


Friday, August 2, 2019

CHICANONAUTICA HAS FUN WITH VIRGINS & TRICKSTERS



Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga, review Virgins & Tricksters by Rosalie Morales Kearns.
She's Puerto Rican/Pennsylvania Dutch:


Which can cause translation difficulties:


With an apocalypse:


And some santeria:

Thursday, July 25, 2019

BUY MEDUSA IN THE GRAVEYARD


That's right, my wife, Emily Devenport's new book, Medusa in the Graveyard, is on sale now! So go to your favorite online bookseller, or even a physical bookstore, and buy it.

Yes, it's the sequel to Medusa Uploaded.

Do it now!

Friday, July 19, 2019

CHICANONAUTICA TELLS HOW TO WIN THE EXTRA-FICTION CONTEST




Over at La Bloga, Chicanonautica announces the second annual Extra-Fiction contest, and give advice on how to win it.

Because, once again, I'm the judge:


Stories can in English, Spanish, or Ingléspañol:


Or maybe like this:


And I do expect my mind to be blown:

Monday, July 15, 2019

THE EXTRA-FICTION CONTEST RIDES AGAIN


Good news, American writers of indigenous-hispanic background (Native American, Chicanan, Latina/o/x) born in the USA or from Latin America residing in the USA! Somos en escrito is doing a second annual Extra-Fiction Contest. And I'm going to be picking the winners again. All the details on the prizes, rules, and how to enter are on the link.

So go ahead, blow my mind.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

ZYX TWEAKED


My novel-in-progress Zyx; Or, Bring Me the Brain of Victor Theremin is roaring along as I grab time to work on it as I run the gauntlet of my life. Since I don't always write linearly, I often go back, rewrite, rearrange, so I ended up adding something to the original opening section that I posted last year (I'm leaving it up for you cultural historians out there). This new opening gives more of a clue to the craziness to come:
 
Victor Theremin woke up in the middle of the night needing to piss.

It pulled him out of another dream where Death came to him as a candy skull-faced Catrina. She had glowing, ectoplasmic breasts on her naked rib-cage, nipples dripping black milk that smelled like fresh-cut peyote. What could lurk between her legs?


Friday, July 5, 2019

CHICANONAUTICA GOEST TO TRUMPTOPIA



The Fourth of July was on Chicanonautica's watch over at La Bloga.

So we looked for America:


Democratic hopefuls tried to speak Spanish:


Some Latinos are for Trump:



And we ended up on Whiskey Row:

Monday, June 24, 2019

UNFIT/PEACECON UPDATE


Good news fans of the time-honored physical book experience. Unfit Magazine Vol. 3, with my story “PeaceCon,” featuring my futuristic lucha libre character Steelsnake, is available in paperback for $3.99.

What the hell, here's a link to the site where you can buy it. Facebook seems to think that the site violates their community standards, so they won't allow links to it.

This is similar to what they were doing to La Bloga, refused allows links to it for years, then it mysteriously and abruptly stopped with out an apology or explanation as to what the infernal violations were.

Violating community standards is the story of my life.

Better include a link to the link where you can buy Unfit Magazine Vol. 3, just in case.

Guess Unfit really is “Fiction that isn't fit for 'Them.'”

Or as editor Daniel Scott White said, “I named it Unfit for a reason.”

Friday, June 21, 2019

CHICANONAUTICA ATTACKED BY THE HAUNTED GIRL




Chicanonautica reviews Lisa M. Bradley's The Haunted Girl at La Bloga.

It's got poetry:


And blurs the line with prose:


Aztlán desert weirdness:


And teratomas:


-->

Monday, June 17, 2019

“GUERRILLA MURAL” BUNDLED


It wasn't long ago that I didn't know what an ebook bundle was, now my work is appearing in them without warning. For example: My story “Guerrilla Mural of a Siren's Song” part of Marty Halpern's anthology Alien Contact, is part of the $15 or more deal of Humble's Science Fiction Bundle!

If you didn't know, “Guerrilla Mural” is the story I exploded in my first novel Cortez on Jupiter.

Here's a preview:

I take the stick like an Aztec priest wielding a flint knife, or that cop swinging his baton on that cool, starless night years ago in L.A.--crushing the buckle from my gas mask into my skull, leaving a cute little scar on my scalp that I shaved my head for months to show off.

You also get other volumes of science fiction, and there's only a few days left—do it now!

Friday, June 7, 2019

CHICANONAUTICA FINDS STEELSNAKE AMOK AGAIN




A new story about my postcyberpunk luchador Steelsnake is out, and you can read all about it in Chicanonautica, over at La Bloga.

It extrapolates on lucha libre:



And the peace business:


And war:


It gets violent:

Monday, May 27, 2019

SKIN DRAGONS TALK IN THE AFROFUTURISM BUNDLE


He didn't want to give the guards one more chance to beat him to a bloody pulp. It would have made them far too happy. The dragons tattooed on his bruised arms and shoulders twitched and asked, What's so funny?


That's the first paragraph of my story, “Skin Dragons Talk,” originally published in the March 1998 issue of Science Fiction Age and later reprinted in Mothership: Tales From Afrofuturism and Beyond. It's set on a moon colony run by yakuza where an intelligent virus from deep space causes all hell to break loose.


For a limited time, Mothership can be purchased along with similar Afrofuturistic book as part of The Afrofuturism Bundle. You also books by Nisi Shawl, Bill Campbell, and many other books that take back the future and the imagination from white supremacy. What are you waiting for?

Friday, May 24, 2019

CHICANONAUTICA THINKS ABOUT LATINOFUTURISM


Chicanonautica is about Latinofuturism over at La Bloga.

Because I took part in an oral history project for the Smithsonian:


The National Air and Space Museum to be exact:


Got me thinking about futurism:


Can it get Latinoid?

Monday, May 13, 2019

A PREVIEW OF “PEACECON”



I sold another story! It's called “PeaceCon”--a slapstick comedy about social unrest and mind control starring my post-cyberpunk masked luchador, Steelsnake. It'll be in Unfit Magazine Vol.3.

Some of you may remember Steelsnake from my story “Novaheads” that can be found in the anthology Super Stories of Heroes and Villians, edited by Claude Lalumière.

And you can read a sample of “PeaceCon” now!

Meanwhile, stay tuned. I'll let you know how to get the whole thing as soon it's available.